NSW Government confirms 4.5 per cent wages boost to public sector workers

The Australian, 5 June 2023

Tens of thousands of public sector workers in NSW can expect a pay bump of 4.5 per cent, as the government works to enact one of their flagship election promises.
The wage rise will be made up of a 4 per cent increase to wages, plus a 0.5 per cent for superannuation.

NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said it was the “biggest pay rise public sector workers have received in a decade”.

He said that to ensure fairness, the flat rate will be applied across all industry awards, however, the Treasurer didn’t rule out extra pay considerations where productivity growth can be demonstrated.

Before the wage rises are enacted into industry awards, unions will take the offer to members, before further discussions and negotiations continue with the government.

However, the Treasurer said he anticipated not all industry groups will be happy.

While the 4 per cent is higher than the 3 per cent wage cap enforced by the former government, it still would be a real wage decrease, considering Australia’s 6.8 per cent inflation rate.

Under the new figures, a school support officer in the public system will get an additional $2484 a year, correction officers will receive an extra $2799, year two paramedics will receive $3189 and registered nurses will get a $2694 boost to their salaries.

“We anticipate that unions will of course begin consultation with their members and it will come as no surprise that certain unions will of course, come back and argue for more,” Mr Mookhey said.

“We sense the deep frustration that many public sector workers feel after a decade of wage suppression.”

Mr Mookhey said the pay increase will cost $618m to the NSW budget, however it will be paid by making cuts to the existing budget. He flagged the government has already moved to enact these cuts including, freezing pay for politicians and senior government beurocrats.

Industrial Relations Minister Sophie Costis said the government has also established an Industrial Relations Task Force has been established, and will be led by the former deputy of the Fair Work Commission Anna Booth and former president of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission Roger Boland.

The commission would consult with “essential workers, their unions and government agencies”.

“What we’ve seen over the last 12 years is that there has not been a cooperative approach with respect to our essential workers,” she said.

“We’ve seen the suppressions of wages but it’s also meant that there has been no discussions with respect to the way our public servants work, with respect to best practice.”

‘Offer falls short’

HSU’s NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said the 4.5 per cent boost wasn’t enough, given rising inflation and cost-of-living. However he said the union would take the offer to delegates during their annual conference in July.

“The Union’s leadership believes this offer falls short. The last monthly inflation read showed the cost of living increased 6.8 per cent in the last twelve months,” he said.

“NSW Health has an attraction and retention crisis that is draining our hospitals of the essential workers they need.

“The HSU intends to keep campaigning for a pay rise that recognises the skills and workload of health and hospital workers and the extraordinary cost of living pressures they face.”